Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why use Science Notebooks?

       About this time of year...I start to think about the why behind the methods in my classroom.  Why do I use science notebooks in the classroom?'s because I love them! and the kids do too...  But there is some research to back up the effectiveness of this tool.

     In the article "Five Good Reasons to use Science Notebooks" by Joan Gilbert and Marleen Kotelman published in Science and Children magazine (NSTA) 2009 the authors pinpoint five points:(To see the full article go to my documents web page link.)
  1. Notebooks are Thinking Tools - encourages students to use writing for thinking and empowers them to become active in their own learning.
  2. Notebooks Guide Teacher Instruction - they give teachers access into students' thinking - what they do and do not understand, what misconceptions they have and the organizational skills they are using.
  3. Notebooks Enhance Literacy Skills:  they offer numerous opportunities to develop and enhance students communication skills, written, visual and oral.
  4. Notebooks Support Differentiated Learning:  they provide a structure and support for all students to achieve.
  5. Notebooks Foster Teacher Collaboration:  teachers need to work with others to work toward agreed-upon goals
      I agree with everything these authors determined as the key understandings behind using science notebooks.  They do provide a window into the minds of our students which then leads us, as teachers, to guide how and what we teach next.  They do provide many opportunities for writing - given many scaffolded approaches from frames to fill in to scientific explanations in a paragraph format.  They are open ended in a way that all students can feel successful on their own learning spectrum.  And if we do our jobs correctly, they are the right tool for teacher collaboration among our professional learning communitites.
       That's all for now.   Gotta run!

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